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The fall of the 'girlboss': Feminism and the public trial of Elizabeth Holmes

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Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of blood testing and life sciences company Theranos, arrives for the first day of jury selection in her fraud trial, outside Federal Court in San Jose, California, on Aug. 31, 2021. (Nick Otto/AFP/Getty Images)
Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of blood testing and life sciences company Theranos, arrives for the first day of jury selection in her fraud trial, outside Federal Court in San Jose, California, on Aug. 31, 2021. (Nick Otto/AFP/Getty Images)
This article is more than 1 year old.

For many, Elizabeth Holmes was the embodiment of the girlboss brand of feminism. Her relentless ambition, status as the youngest female self-made billionaire and as a female CEO in the male-dominated Silicon Valley made Holmes a role model for many women in tech.

Now years later, her trial defense portrays a drastic contrast to the image of the empowered, all-knowing CEO. Holmes' team plans to allege that her business partner Sunny Balwani deceived Holmes about the company's financial models and subjected her to intimate partner abuse.

But has feminism played a role in shielding Holmes from criticism and accountability? Anne Coughlin, professor of Law at the University of Virginia, helps us parse this out.

This segment aired on October 12, 2021.

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